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Do I Need an Architect?

The value of a home is an important consideration when renovating. The wrong type of renovation or a poor quality design – internally or externally – can actually devalue a home so the cost of hiring an architect should often be seen as an investment rather than an expense.

If there’s one thing we can all learn from the plethora of building and renovation shows on television at the moment, it’s that without expert advice, building projects can go haywire very quickly and easily. That’s not to say that every home renovation needs an architect, but in many, even seemingly simple cases, the guidance of a skilled architect can save time, space, money and lots of headaches.

There’s no doubt that an architect is an extra cost to consider in budgeting an overall project, however the building knowledge, problem-solving skills and experience often easily outweighs the expense – financially and emotionally. Even with a relatively straightforward renovation, if your upgrade includes plumbing, drainage or structural considerations, the architect can help plan the design for maximum efficiency – both in construction and ongoing costs. They’ll use their expert eye to optimise natural heating and cooling, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars each year in utility bills, and give guidance on potential engineering issues and that might not be obvious to the untrained eye – including load-bearing, drainage, shade and space optimisation. They can give advice on materials to use and features to include to extend the appeal of your home. What’s more, they can help less experienced renovators avoid the most common pitfalls of designing their own projects.

In an interview with realestate.com, Brent Marvin of MD+A Architects shed light on a common yet often overlooked feature of self-designed renovations: “What we typically find is people making the bedrooms too large, incorporating long corridors, too much space at the top of stairs or stupid ancillary spaces which make the house too big and the land too small. We frequently take designs people have come up with, keep the rooms the same size but eliminate as much as 100 sqm from the plan – leaving the client unable to figure out how we did it.”

With inner-suburban land at a premium, the space-saving advice offered by architects can make an enormous difference in the enjoyment of a home and its value down the track. The architect’s knowledge of design and planning can also help expedite council approvals and prevent delays in time and the costs of resubmissions, and in many cases, an architect will be able to provide general advice (excluding any actual construction plans) for a lot less than you might expect – but saving you a lot more than you may imagine.

So if you’re planning to embark on home renovations, especially ones that involve structural elements, it’s often very wise to invest some time and budget in seeking out the expert advice from a qualified and experienced architect to enhance your home's value.